Statement from Rep. Andrew Barkis on the passage of the Democrats’ Move Ahead Washington transportation package

Late Tuesday night, on a near party-line vote, Democrats in the state House of Representatives passed their 16-year, $16.8 billion Move Ahead Washington transportation package.

Senate Bill 5974 is the revenue proposal that would raise various transportation-related fees and taxes. It would also tap into the state's Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) with a transfer of $100 million per year for the life of this package. The strategy to use the PWAA replaces the controversial 6-cent-per-gallon tax on fuel exported from Washington's five refineries to neighboring states. Senate Bill 5975 sets forth the spending plan for the revenue received from Senate Bill 5974.

Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement on the passage of this partisan transportation package:

“Transportation budgeting has always been a bipartisan effort. My Republican colleagues and I have a different vision for Washington state's current and future transportation system. Yet, our policies weren't given public hearings. We weren't granted the opportunity to participate in the dialogue as this package was prepared. The acceptance of our amendments to make this a true bipartisan package was denied during House floor debate.

“The process is such an essential part of crafting policy. Whether it's this transportation package or any other policy brought before us, all solutions, ideas, and concepts should be part of the discussion. The process builds the foundation for the decisions we as lawmakers ultimately make as the represented voices of our constituents.

“We cannot remain divided if we want to holistically address our state's transportation needs. Washingtonians deserve real solutions from their transportation leaders and tax dollars.

“The Move Ahead Washington transportation plan does provide funding to keep our transportation system functioning and makes investments for our future. These are good intentions; however, they fall short in many concerning ways.

“Uniquely, this package hopes to draw revenue from the operating and capital budgets. I'm not opposed to shifting funds between the transportation and operating budgets. I'm opposed to using any funds from the capital budget's Public Works Assistance Account. Capital budget writers weren't part of the process to verify if these funds are a viable and sustainable option for our transportation needs.

“With a historic surplus of $15 billion in operating budget revenues, tapping into the PWAA is the wrong account to sweep. This will severely impact the public works infrastructure projects funded through this account. We cannot ask local governments – specifically our small, rural governments – to choose between roads and other vital community projects.

“This package focuses on the transportation needs, environment, and communities throughout Western Washington. Eastern Washington's needs, such as the completion of Highway 12, weren't made priorities. Addressing our environmental concerns as we move toward a cleaner future is important. We shouldn't be putting the environment and Seattle-centric ideologies in front of statewide projects or furthering the divide between our urban and rural communities. 

“For many years, the lens of which we've approved policy has been through that of equity. Where is the equity lens in this package? Many of the fee increases will hurt our elderly, underserved and low-income communities, and communities of color. What could be perceived as a minor fee for one person could mean a meal on the table, a trip to the grocery store, rent, childcare, or gas in the tank for someone else. We shouldn't be picking winners and losers.

“I wish this was a bipartisan transportation package benefiting every corner of Washington state. We've done it before. We should've done it again.”

The Move Ahead Washington transportation package now heads back to the Senate for further consideration.

The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 10.

More information:

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov